March 2012 Archives

Just like that super slick Tokyo Disneyland ad, here's another unexpected swap of live action and animation... a really cool Adventure Time ad from Cartoon Network.

Tokyo Disneyland ad

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Man I love this. I love the hidden Mickeys, the churros, the better-than-you'd-expect mix of anime style and realistic Disney architecture. I love the specific milestones: first time, meeting a character, going with friends, discovering a ride, falling in love, getting married, and bringing the next generation to Disney. Just beautiful.

It's schmaltzy, sure. But that's Disney. I'm certainly more moved by this than if the exact same concept had been done in live action... because this is far more difficult to produce.


One week ago, I knew nothing about "The Hunger Games." When DrawSomething served up "KATNISS" as a potential word between my wife and myself, we had to Google it. And then we still didn't know what to do with it. Then I caught all the nerdflack about it being a ripoff of "Battle Royale" (which is a silly point to make; I've also read "The Lottery" and "The Most Dangerous Game." Is no one else allowed to play with the concept of a dystopian government that forces high school kids to kill each other for public sport?) Shortly thereafter, Rhonda suggested seeing the movie - and I did not want to see it without having read the book first.

Turns out, it's a short book and an easy read. I read it in one night, 10:30pm to 2:45am. I'm a fast reader, and like many naturally fast readers, the secret is that my eyes are always a few sentences ahead of my brain... and years of reading makes it easy to instantly attention-edit on the fly. You can tell which words are bullshit filler that can be skimmed, and which are the details you absolutely have to take in.

I say this because I read the damn thing in one night, had not seen trailer one, and still managed to walk away with the awareness that Rue and Thresh are black. "Hunger Games" does not dwell on it. It's not like author Suzanne Collins brings it up every time one of these two enters the room. But I noticed it... mainly because I wondered if Collins was trying to subtly present the notion that their home, District 11, was the only district with black people in it, since skin color comes up almost nowhere else in the novel. (Katniss is described early on as having olive skin. I think I recall "pale" being applied to other random kids, but overall, skin color does not have much to do with anything.) District 11 being the agricultural district might be another uncomfortable indicator of race relations in Panem, although there is no outward prejudice discussed. People of the Capitol region are noted for having orange skin and blue hair and whatnot, but that is presented more as an extravagance of the wealthy.

I haven't read books 2 and 3 yet. Maybe this sort of thing is addressed later on.

Anyway, here's that Gawker article that made the rounds yesterday, pulling selections from a Hunger Games fan who started collected openly racist tweets about the movie cast on Tumblr. It is appalling.

One message suggests being angry about Rue being black because "she might have mentioned that" as if being black needs to be formally and verbally confessed to whites. (Or maybe "she" refers to the author? Who did, you know, mention that.) Another Twitter writer says it ruins the film for her. Ruins.

So let's move past the lousy retention and reading skills of these people, who could not be bothered to recall a phrase like "dark brown skin" when filling in the visual details of the book inside their minds. What is shocking is the resentment and anger that bubbled up over Rue being black. No doubt, they see this as Hollywood inserting cultural diversity where it is not necessary. Forcibly making white viewers see black people. (Of course, Hollywood is generally accused of exactly the opposite, casting pre-existing minority characters with white actors and being very reluctant to front films with non-white leads.)

The real horror show here is that, once these people realize they're stupid and missed the obvious clues in the original book itself, they then feel duped into caring about a black person. Like, it all somehow means less because Rue isn't a little white girl. What. In. The. Fuck.

These are people who rolled their eyes at Captain Planet's racially diverse team of kids, because they came from 99%-white environments and considered it minority-pandering. Like the old Burger King Kids Club:


This is viewed as political correctness gone mad. Or, at the least, "inclusive" marketing bullshit.

I was there. I laughed at how every 80s kids show had to have some permutation of a black kid, an Asian kid, a handicapped kid and an Hispanic kid. Tokens. Of course, the ratio was still at least two whites for every single minority, so we wouldn't feel threatened about minorities encroaching on our precious entertainment.

At some point, I grew up. I realized that kids of all races deserved to be able to see themselves represented, and their inclusion had no ill effect on my experience. And it was before we adopted a baby from South Korea and had to personally invest ourselves in anticipating issues and preparing him for what it means to be a minority in white America. For me, the realization came slowly, over probably a ten year stretch covering high school through college and beyond.

Is it always done well? No, of course not. A really stupid bit of stereotypical tokenism can be just as damaging. But to take the position that black people ruin a film is unforgivably atrocious.

I'm glad Gawker made the Twitter names public, although word is that most of the racists in question have since made their accounts private. These people need to be aired out in the public forum. They need to see that the world is bigger than the privileged white suburbanite world they inhabit. They need to hear that this is not acceptable discourse. They are sequestered inside tiny opaque bubbles and their insulated shells must be broken.


Yeah, she might have a tough time spelling TRIPLETS when there's no T's.

Kid Icarus AR card madness

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There's Clark setting up AR card battles in Kid Icarus: Uprising. Some of the cards unlock items in the game - just like the eCards for the original Animal Crossing - but other than that they're mainly just a cute ancillary feature. It's another excuse for silly posed photos of you holding video game character models in your hand.

He's using the included plastic 3DS stand! Don't tell Kotaku!


The game comes with six free cards, but more cards will be available inside upcoming magazines... Nintendo Power for one, Best Buy's in-house mag for another. Has Nintendo come out and admitted outright that they would like to sell these things? So far, all I've seen is advance notice of cards available inside mags and at special events (PAX, GameStop tourneys, Nintendo Store New York handout, etc).


So who's going to PAX or GameStop and will get free cards for me?


Clark and I have plans to shuffle up two decks of the cards and play War with them. Seems doable. When two cards face off in the game's AR camera mode, they battle based on specific speed and damage attributes. I'm hoping there's some kind of balancing factor there, or else you'll end up with one card that ALWAYS wins everything in the end.


This is a cheap laugh.

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iPhone email subject truncation, for purposes of comedy.


I would love to take a peek at an alternate universe where iPhones/iPads were as fragmented and behind as the current snapshot of Android devices, with an overwhelming majority of them two versions back, just to see how the Tech Nerd Internet would roast Apple alive for it. Winning, indeed.

Never too early.

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Include this in your planning agenda: Free Comic Book Day is May 5.

I know I'm late on this, but I'm only just now playing InFamous 2 and I thought this was funny.


"Red Ring Electronics. Repairs in only 12 weeks, results not guaranteed." Coming from a PS3-exclusive game by a Sony-focused developer, that is some astonishingly pointed fanboy-baiting right there. I giggled.

InFamous 2 has some good fun with the New Marais locale. The downtown theater of ill repute has porno versions of famous game franchises on the marquee. "Little Big Unit," "Assassin's Need," "Uncharted Love," and the like.

Also, note the cool old b&w cartoon playing on the monitors. Nice touch. There's a mission where you hijack the bad guy's TV signal and make the Times Squarey TVs play that old cartoon.

Oh, and I know I'm supposed to be outraged by this kind of blatant advertising in a video game, but I'm not:


Thanks to some excellent horse trading by my mother, we now have a complete set of the Justice League Tots, as found in Sonic Wacky Packs.

Clark was surprised to see Batman and Green Lantern not included in the roster. "But they're the main guys!" Who knows what odd licensing agreements kept GL and Bats out of the lineup. Maybe it's a legal restriction related to characters with current/recent animated shows or feature films?

The only villain in the group is Bizarro, who makes for one sad Tot. Seems like Luthor could have made a nice toy, perhaps rejected due to being boring (bald guy in suit). Hawkgirl is pulled from the "Justice League" cartoon, which is as high a profile as that character as ever enjoyed. The toys have nice unnecessary details; Martian Manhunter's collared cape is particularly slick. Plastic Man has stretchy legs, which is pretty fantastic. Would have liked to see some more diversity, maybe with Cyborg, John Stewart and Black Canary in there.

Cute designs (and yes, I know Sonic does Tot-based stuffed toys all the time). If some Etsy/DeviantArt doof made these by hand, they'd be shared all over comics forums like whenever somebody makes a Portal-themed Jack O'Lantern. But since they're mass-produced fast food kids meal toys, they probably rank only slightly more interesting than Mighty Muggs.


Where's the option for "I guess, maybe, I'm kinda backlogged right now and most nights it seems like I end up watching half an episode of 'Trailer Park Boys' and passing out"?

Cheese Z. Top

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When this poster was first installed at Chuck E. Cheese, it was a fun joke for the kids. Today, it's a fun joke for the adults.


More specifically, this iconic shot from "Ringu"...


This is not a comment on International Women's Day, just my brain parsing their logo.

Maybe this is more of a positive association?


I have little to no chance of winning this Hero Academy game against Tony, but I just can't bring myself to click the Concede button. Tony has ten reinforcements. As you can see, I have an Engineer and a sickly Paladin. And nothing else.

It's not that I hope Tony has an aneurysm and hands me the game. It's that I want to trust the game itself to give me an opportunity to swing a win, however small that chance may be. I want to play it out. If you know the movement and combat ranges of the individual pieces, you can try to position yourself just outside of those blocks and work up tiny turn count advantages. Although I'm pretty well beyond that by this point.

So maybe Tony will have an aneurysm.

No Sly Cooper sale, I guess.

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The results are in, and my picks did not fare well. I voted for InFamous: Festival of Blood or whatever it's called, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Limbo. So that's three, two of which I'll consider buying on the Plus Nice Price.

No Sly Collection win (although Plus members will get Sly 1 for free!), but then I really did not expect Sly to win against God of War. Sly has been largely dormant on PS3, aside from the Collection itself and oddball DLC from other games, so it's not much of a contest against the constant presence of Sony's brooding albino poster boy for bald gothic murder machines.


You wouldn't think that's something that needs to be stressed.

Today we're talking about Halo 4 and Fable Heroes. Halo 4 being, yes, another Halo. The eighth game with Halo in the name. Fable Heroes came out of nowhere, looking like a family-friendly cutesy adventure board game kind of thing. Oh, and there's a fifth Forza coming. An arcadey one.

And this is great. Halo is a genuine franchise phenomenon; sequels are money in the bank. Fable Heroes and the new Forza represent Microsoft continuing to diversify... leveraging known brand names into something a bit more casual and attractive to families. The endgame for Microsoft is to soften the ugly reputation of being the console that's home to nothing but bloody shooters and racist voice chat.

What gets me is that I very clearly recall The Internet attacking Nintendo for being unoriginal. For crapping out Mario titles every quarter. For - and this was just a few months ago - not introducing any "good" new characters since 2001's Pikmin. This was/is a huge problem for Nintendo, as explained by the haters who were quick to post box shots of Mario Party 5, that Nintendo was standing still and relying on Mario/Zelda/____ games. (The ____ represented whatever Nintendo third wheel had recently seen a release. One year it was "Mario/Zelda/Metroid." The next it was "Mario/Zelda/Kirby." Briefly it was "Mario/Zelda/Starfox.")

And maybe I'm making this up, but it always seemed to be the Xbox fanboys doing most of the name calling. There's a simple reason why I think I'm right about this: at the time, Xbox was new Microsoft saw the necessity for console exclusives and started making them. So they snapped up Halo, they got key developers in line, and started working on the exclusives that would define the Xbox experience. Naturally, ALL NEW titles appeared, and fans wielded that as proof that Microsoft was an innovator and the other guys were resting on their laurels.

As I know I said at the time... didn't anybody think there would be a Halo 2 or 3? If it sells well, it gets a sequel. It keeps getting sequels until it stops selling well. Therefore, given enough time, Microsoft would look just as franchise-reliant and money-hungry as Sony and Nintendo. That time has clearly come. Fable being turned into both a Kinect-friendly game and a chibi board game is astoundingly hard evidence. Lauding a company for "not relying on existing properties" is not a long-term view. It's a petty, short-term attack.

Unless they were complete hypocrites, Sony fanboys couldn't attack Nintendo on this. Tons of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro and Croc and Twisted Metal and Resident Evil and Final Fantasy meant Sony enjoyed the multi-sequel bounty as much as Nintendo.

What's weird is Nintendo still has to take lumps on this. This is how the world operates, but because Nintendo tends to focus on material that is appropriate for all ages (and they've been completely pants about online stuff), they're the ones who get slammed.

I don't see too many people coming at Microsoft for going through eight Halo games in eleven years.

I feel like I write this rant every six months. Certainly every time a new Halo is announced, it's a trigger for me. It just drives me crazy that people go MARIO PARTY 9, SEE?!?! and ignore Looksley's Line-up, Dillon's Rolling Western, Elite Beat Agents, Excitebots, Chibi Robo, WarioWare, Drill Dozer, Nintendogs, Professor Layton, Fossil Fighters, Rhythm Heaven, Brain Age... and whatever else NEW that Nintendo has published since 2001 that I forgot to list.

Ridiculous "Halo Party" box art by Chris Loomis.


Check out this gift from the (retired) manager of my LCBS. He found it while doing some cleaning up... one of the original starter decks from Doomtown, plus an unopened booster! Circa 1998. Remember that cool die cut bullet hole in those tuckboxes? Man, what a great game.

I'm almost afraid to open the booster. It's a genyuwine relic.

Today Clark turns seven.


Here's the haul he's about to receive (don't tell him, those of you playing against him on Hero Academy)...


Happy birthday, buddy.


So let's not even pretend the Gamers' Choice Awards are some kind of value assessment. That kind of thing goes out the window as soon as you offer up a bounty for whoever the public chooses. The winning games will be offered at a discount, 30% for regular PSN users and 50% for PSN Plus members.

Which is great. Plus throws out so many deals and freebies that I almost never buy anything when it debuts at full price. Which sucks for Sony, I guess, but the flipside is that the discounts guarantee we all crow about these cool deals when they happen. Pushes Plus, anyway.

So what we do here, if we're self-focused individuals, is vote up games that we want to buy at 50% off. IE, vote for items which we, in all likelihood, do not already own.

Here's my picks. There are three nominees in each category.

BEST PSN GAME - InFamous: Carnival of Blood or whatever it's called. We're playing InFamous 2 right now (Clark really likes this series) so I'd for sure pick up this for $5. Plants vs Zombies is really, really good, though. But we all know that by now, it's out for every platform except the TI-99.

BEST 3D GAME - Sly Collection. And now, another chance to bitch about the sliding crapscale of the Sly franchise! This series went from Awesome to A Mess in three installments, because of Sucker Punch's insistence on minimizing Sly Cooper and making us play as dickbags. Still, I would buy the HD remastered version on sale... and just play the first game three times. I can't seem to get the retail version of Sly Collection at a good price, but if this contest bumps 'em down to $5 apiece, I'll bite.

BEST ONLINE PLAYABLE - Tetris, I guess? I can't get behind yet another 2D Street Fighter game, and I don't even know what the other one is.

BEST PLAYSTATION CLASSIC - Who cares. I voted for Parasite Eve, because I vaguely recall almost buying that one a decade ago. But let me tell you, "almost bought a decade ago" isn't much of a metric with me.

BEST PSN EXCLUSIVE - They put that InFamous game in two categories, which says to me that they want this one to go on sale (same with Tetris and PixelJunk Shooter 2; Dungeon Defenders is nominated in three categories). I voted for InFamous again. Related: how in crap do you call Tetris a PSN Exclusive?

BEST MINI GAME - I find it so hard to care about Minis. I don't have a PSP or a Vita, and I don't see why they can't issue these things with Trophy support (which Apple figured out, so you'd think Sony would have by now.) I voted for Pac-Man Championship Edition, whatever.

BEST PS3 FULL GAME - I think this category is just to remind us that full game downloads exist on PSN, and the choice is between two old Assassin's Creed games and what in the fuck Midnight Club. I voted for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, because, objectively, it's probably the best in the line... although it's a line that hasn't offered much differentiation over the past four games.

BEST PSP GAME - Judging from the store icons, this category is a competition between three identical games. I voted for Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together because that is one hilarious subtitle.

BEST PLAYSTATION MOVE GAME - Again, I have Dungeon Defenders, so I'm not voting for it. This is all so selfish. Plus, DD is nominated in three categories; this game is going to win and it's going to go on sale. I backed 4 Elements HD.

BEST INDIE GAME - Limbo. I've seen a bit of the XBLA version, so I'd pick it up on sale, sure. Not really my kind of game; that trial and error bullshit drives me crazy. But it looks cool enough to get on the cheap.

The winners will go on sale next week, which is a nice quick turnaround.

Also: my god, stop using that font. It sucks. It sucks in Rock Band, it sucks here. Those heavy angles on the As, Vs, Ws and Ms drive me crazy. It is a kerning nightmare.

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